Wearing a respirator is often a requirement for workers in pharmaceutical, medical, chemical, oil, gas, and other industries that may have toxic environments. However, an employee can’t just go to the HR to get a respirator; there is a whole process that involves respirator fit testing.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has certain regulations in place that state employers should have a respiratory protection program and organize annual respirator fit testing to safeguard their employees’ occupational health and safety.
If you are considering working with certified respirator fit testing professionals to train your employees, here is what you should do to prepare beforehand.
4 Steps To Help You Prepare For Respirator Fit Testing
Before your employee begins their respirator fit testing, here is what needs to be done:
Choose the right respirator: As an employer, you should consider what toxins your worker is exposed to while performing their job duties. In addition, also take into account the amount of time spent in exposure, job roles, and the concentration of the toxins. Always make sure you buy NIOSH-approved respirators.
Employee needs to bring the personal protective equipment (PPE): Your employee will be required to bring the chosen respirator to their fit testing. If they are going to wear any other PPE that could interfere with their respirator’s seal, they should bring those items as well. This can include face shields, safety glasses, hard hats, and hearing protection.
Shave all facial hair: The male employees must be clean-shaven during their respirator fit testing. This is to prevent facial hair from interfering with the fit.
Complete the medical assessment: Before the employee can be fit-tested, they must complete the OSHA medical evaluation questionnaire. This questionnaire will be reviewed by a physician or other licensed health care provider.
The respirator fit testing process starts with a medical evaluation of the employee who is designated to wearing the respirator. It should be noted that whoever administers the respirator fit testing doesn’t require a specific certification, but they do need to be trained on how to conduct the test. After the medical evaluation is finished and the employee is cleared to wear a respirator, they will need to undergo either a quantitative fit test or a qualitative fit test.
What Does A Quantitative Fit Test (QNFT) Cover?
A QNFT can be used to test any respirator that’s a tight fit. This test uses a special tool to quantify leakage around the face seal, leading in a number that’s known as the fit factor. There are 3 QNFT test protocols as approved by OSHA:
Controlled negative pressure: Creating a vacuum that cuts off air momentarily
Condensation nuclei counter: Using diffusive aerosol without a test chamber
Generated aerosol: Using a non-toxic aerosol in a test chamber
What Does A Qualitative Fit Test (QLFT) Cover?
A QLFT can only be used to test tight-fitting face pieces used with oxygen-supplying respirators and negative pressure respirators. This is a pass-or-fail test where the respirator-using worker must rely on their senses. There are 4 OSHA-approved test agents:
- Irritant smoke
- Isoamyl Acetate
Schedule Your Respirator Fit Testing Today
Professional Fit Testing Services provides on-site qualitative respirator fit testing to help organizations stay compliant with OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard. Our team will work with your current respiratory protection plan, or we can help you create a plan from scratch. To know more, call us today at (336) 802-1759 or email PFTS.